By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 15, 2005 3:32 AM
ANAHEIM, Calif., June 14 -- Jose Guillen's return to Angel Stadium, supposed to be about leaving the past in the past and showing how he had embraced the Washington Nationals and moved on, exploded Tuesday night in a tense, bench-clearing exchange in which Guillen, the Nationals right fielder, had to be restrained and dragged to the dugout by his teammates -- and later returned to hit the home run that sparked an emotional 6-3 Washington victory.
Need some spice to the early part of your summer? Try Angel Stadium Tuesday night. In the top of the seventh inning, in a five-minute span, Nationals Manager Frank Robinson accused reliever Brendan Donnelly of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of having a foreign substance -- pine tar -- on his glove. And then, the real controversy.
Umpires investigated, Donnelly was ejected, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia told Robinson he was going to have all the Nationals pitchers undressed. Robinson responded by getting in Scioscia's face, the glove in question was confiscated, the benches and bullpens cleared, and Guillen -- the Nationals right fielder and erstwhile Angel, who left Anaheim under controversial circumstances -- appeared to snap.
"Sometimes, you need something like that to wake you up," said Carlos Baerga, the batter Donnelly was preparing to face.
In the middle of it all, Guillen was there. In the ejection, the scrum, and the result of the game. Apparently spurred on by the controversy, the Nationals used Guillen's two-run home run to tie things in the eighth and Junior Spivey's RBI single to take the lead, snatching their 14th victory in 16 games to extend their lead in the National League East to a season-high two games -- and leaving plenty of controversy behind.
At the heart of the dispute were Robinson, 69, and Scioscia, 46. Robinson said he considered Scioscia's claim that he would check each and every Washington pitcher for foreign substances a "threat."
"His guy got caught tonight cheating, and he was way off base," Robinson said, "and he took me by surprise. To me, it's a threat . . . I lost a lot of respect for Mike tonight, as a person and as a manager. There's nothing he can say to me now. Nothing. I don't even want him to approach me. I don't want him to try to apologize to me. If he even thought about it, I will not accept it. I don't want anything to do with it."
The situation was this: In the top of the seventh, with a runner on first and the Angels leading 3-1, Robinson called on Baerga to pinch hit for shortstop Cristian Guzman. That sent Scioscia to the mound to get starter Erwin Santana, who had done his job, and left to a rousing ovation. Donnelly, who allowed a pair of walk-off homers on the Angels' most recent road trip, entered to face Baerga. But Robinson was waiting for him.
After Donnelly warmed up, Robinson indicated to home plate umpire Tim Tschida that he wanted Donnelly's glove checked -- before he threw a pitch to Baerga. Tschida took Donnelly's glove, and all four umpires converged in front of the mound. Scioscia came to the field, and was told to stand aside while the umpires conferred, which they did for perhaps two minutes.
"There was a foreign substance on the heel" of the glove, crew chief Dale Scott told a pool reporter. "It was definitely pine tar. It was obvious. There was quite a bit of it."
Scioscia claimed that use of pine tar is a common practice, even though Rule 8.02b provides that use of any "foreign substance" is an automatic ejection.
"Pine tar doesn't affect the flight of the ball," Scioscia said. "It's an accepted practice."
The immediate assumption was that Guillen, who was a teammate of Donnelly's last season, provided Robinson with the information that Donnelly uses pine tar. Robinson said that was untrue, and Guillen concurred.
"Don't go there," Guillen said. "I don't know anything. That's not my business. I don't really care."
Robinson said he and the coaching staff were tipped off to Donnelly's use of pine tar by studying videotape. Eddie Robinson, the club's video technician, acknowledged that as he tape of opposing teams, he points out potential problems to the coaching staff, but wouldn't say if he did so in this instance.
Scioscia said he didn't know if Guillen had tipped off the Nationals.
"I don't know where he gets his information," Scioscia said of Frank Robinson.
Frank Robinson said that he also suspected that Donnelly had sandpaper on his hand, but he either put it in his pocket or handed it to second baseman Adam Kennedy before the umpires could discover it. Scott, the crew chief, said the crew found no evidence of sandpaper.
"That's absolutely ridiculous," Scioscia said.
"That's a [expletive] lie," Donnelly said.
When he emerged from the huddle, he signaled with his right arm to the Angels bullpen, calling for reliever Scot Shields. That's when Scioscia walked toward Robinson, still standing on the first baseline. Scioscia made a brief argument, then turned back toward the Angels dugout. Robinson, less than two months shy of his 70th birthday, followed, pointing and yelling. The two men nearly came face to face, and the benches and bullpens emptied.
In the middle of it all, Guillen exploded. He had to be restrained by bench coach Eddie Rodriguez and bullpen catcher and batting practice pitcher Jose Martinez, who dragged him back to the dugout. Guillen said afterward that no Angels said anything to get upset him, but that he felt Scioscia had disrespected Robinson.
"That's the stuff that [ticked] me off," Guillen said. "All I know is, Mike should show more respect . . . [He] talks about respect, leadership. I don't think he showed anything right there at all. That's it. Simple."
When it all calmed down, the Nationals still trailed by two, and Scioscia responded by having the glove of Washington reliever Gary Majewski inspected. It was clean, Scott said.
Then, the worst-case scenario for the Angels -- Guillen as the hero. Shields opened the eighth by hitting Ryan Church with a pitch, and Guillen followed with a screaming line shot to left, into the Angels bullpen, his 11th homer of the year and first since May 25.
"A great swing," Nationals center fielder Brad Wilkerson said. "That thing was a missile that went out of here."
With one out, the Nationals' rally continued when Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera booted a ball hit by Vinny Castilla. Wil Cordero singled Castilla to third, and Spivey followed with a sharp single to right, making it 4-3. Brian Schneider drove home the final run of the inning on a sacrifice fly, and the Nationals added another -- on another error by Cabrera, the former Montreal Expo, in the ninth.
Luis Ayala and Chad Cordero finished off the Angels, Cordero recording his 20th save. But there is one more game remaining in this series. And as much as Guillen has decided that "the past is the past" would serve as his mantra when dealing with questions about Anaheim, he made sure Tuesday night that the past would resurface again.
"I don't really care about any of those guys," Guillen said. "I'm a Washington Nationals player. I'm not an Anaheim Angels player. I got a job."